Atlanta — Byron Cocke, co-CEO of Atlanta-based CF Real Estate Services, and his wife, Catherine Cocke, owner of design firm Catherine Cocke Interiors, were killed Monday morning when the small plane they were aboard crashed near Savannah.
Byron, 42, and Catherine, 39, are survived by their five children, whom will be cared for by extended family members. The pilot, Randy Hunter, was also killed in the accident, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The newspaper reports that the aircraft was a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, and that the National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the cause of the crash.
“We are devastated by this tragic loss,” said Brett Finkelstein, co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services, in a statement issued by the company. “They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial.”
Before co-founding Cocke Finkelstein in 2004, Byron had worked as an investment and merchant banker with Burke Capital Group. He specialized in mergers and acquisitions in the financial services sector, with an expertise in community banks.
Byron attended the University of Virginia and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, with concentrations in accounting and finance.
Catherine was a prominent interior designer, with her 18-month renovation of the family’s midcentury home in Atlanta featured on HGTV’s “My Big Amazing Renovation,” according to her company’s website. Catherine’s other projects included a vacation home in the Bahamas, an office in Buckhead, a loft in New York City’s West Village and a mountain home in Highlands, North Carolina.
“We send our love to their family. We will always strive for the greatness Byron envisioned,” Finkelstein noted in the statement. “His dreams are still very much alive, as we continue in his honor."
Byron oversaw CF Real Estate’s operations, construction and business development team. Formerly known as CFLane, CF Real Estate Services is a multifamily real estate company formed in 2013 from a merger between Byron’s firm Cocke Finkelstein Inc. and Lane Co.
CF Real Estate is responsible for multiple projects in the metro Atlanta area, including The Lofts at Atlantic Station in Midtown and Olmsted Chamblee, which opened earlier this month.
Byron was a fixture at the InterFace Multifamily Southeast conference, a networking and information event for multifamily professionals that France Media Inc.’s conference division, InterFace Conference Group, hosts annually in Atlanta. Byron often participated in panels discussing investment opportunities throughout the Southeast.
In addition to traditional multifamily real estate, CF Real Estate runs a student housing division known as Campus First Student Living, which owns and manages five communities near colleges in Columbia, South Carolina; Salisbury, Maryland; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Savannah, Georgia, according to the company website.
Finkelstein will continue to lead CF Real Estate in the wake of the tragedy.
“Working with Byron was a joy,” said Finkelstein. “He was laid back, yet he motivated us to be the best we could possibly be and to treat the company as if it were our own. I’m confident in our senior team and their leadership, and we are working together to ensure continuity.”
— Staff Reports